Designers often speak of the importance of having a focal point in a room – but the truth is – many of us may not know exactly what that means or how to achieve it. So let’s start with a definition. The focal point of a room is the element to which the eye is naturally most drawn. It garners the most attention and often, the most compliments!
Why is it so critical? A room without a focal point is visually unappealing. The eye wanders; things compete against one other. It’s unsettling, whereas a room with a focal point is more pleasing and inviting. Everything else in the room accentuates the focal point, creating harmony and balance.
But how do you find a focal point? And then how do you highlight it? Here are our suggestions:
Embrace a natural focal point. Some rooms are blessed with ‘good bones’, whether it’s a cathedral ceiling framed in cornices, an impressive stone fireplace or a large window with a beautiful view. If that’s your space, lucky you! Make the most of it. Paint that ceiling a gorgeous pale pink or add a glamourous multi-tiered light fixture; hang bold abstract art above the fireplace; frame the window view with minimal curtains in a soft gauzy fabric.
Create an architectural focal point. If your home lacks character, add it yourself! Install wood beams to a ceiling for instant panache; add a brick wall to your space and display an interesting collection of black and white photos on it; install pillars where the living meets the dining room, framing beautiful French doors. How about wall to ceiling bookcases with not only books but artfully displayed bric a brac? It’s surprising easily to make any room look like it has a pedigree by adding an attention-grabbing focal point.
Make art a focal point. Whether it’s a large sculpture, a large single wall hanging or a grouping, art is not only a great focal point, but also a great conversation starter. For groupings, stick to a theme (sunsets for example) or frame all your art similarly (black frames with white mattes for example). For a single piece, be adventurous. Choose something stunning that makes a statement. Remember you want all eyes to fall on this element and to love it!
Furnish with a focal point. Choose an outstanding piece of furniture and make it the centre of your room’s universe! Larger pieces work best of course, based on sheer size, but also consider colour and style. How about a unique side/accent table in grey or turquoise? How about a sofa in red? What about a Victorian-styled settee or a large traditional armoire in a modern room?
Avoid this one focal point! Many living rooms are dominated by a large TV and while it’s fun, it’s not aesthetically very pleasing. Attempt to ‘override’ the television with a different focal point – perhaps a glorious painting on the opposite wall or a spectacular chaise in a bright colour.
Cast a critical eye over your living space. Is there a focal point now? Do you love it? If not, it’s time to put your creativity to work. Have fun!